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A Business Traveler Vents His Rental Car Road Rage

While planning trips can be tedious, at least the reservation process is modernized. Unless, of course, you are renting a car.

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This story appears in the August 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

"If I were you, I'd take the full protection," a Budget agent in the San Jose, Calif., airport said. Then she advised me to upgrade to a larger vehicle, take the fuel option and rent a GPS. Never mind that I had my Garmin sitting on the counter between us.

I don't mean to pick on Budget. The practice of upselling customers has become a staple of the category. It's one of many factors that makes renting a car so frustrating. While the rest of the travel industry has evolved into the online era, rental-car agencies remain stuck in 1985--or worse. In those days, you could walk to your car at all but the biggest airports. Now there's a bus or tram to take before standing in line for a car that will likely have 25,000 miles on it. Or isn't the size you requested. Or isn't there at all.

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